Friday, August 05, 2011

Surgical Afterparty

Home. So nice. Home with coffee. And that's all that actually matters.

Basically the rundown is as such: We got there at 6:45am and got checked in. The nursing staff at cardiovascular surgery were really funny and nice. I got catheterized (which initially freaked me out but wasn't all that bad in the end).

The people in the area next to me were incredibly annoying to me. They were an older couple and he was having a stent put in. They talked and talked about inane topics like the Red Sox, and took about 100 cell phone calls from different people... family, friends. Look, just tell one person and have them call everyone. Can't you just BE QUIET for five minutes? 

I just wanted to sit quietly and had to listen to their jabbering, her coughing, and eventually his snoring.

Doug had my bag, and hence, my book. I had nothing to read. My nurse, Henry, went and found me a magazine. I told him I didn't like "chick rags" so he found a 2010 Sports Illustrated that had Wes Welker from the New England Patriots on the cover. It was a great article. And it took my mind off her phlegmy gagging cough and his snoring.

It was funny to sit there reading a 8 month old magazine, thinking of one of the most heartbreaking songs about hospitals ever,  Death Cab For Cutie's "What Sarah Said." Out in the hall, there were vending machines and year old magazines... the TV was indeed entertaining itself, and it smelled much better than "piss and 409." I wasn't dying, or waiting for someone to die where "there's no comfort in the waiting room," but I couldn't help but think of the song as I was waiting.

Doug had gone to run errands, with my bag in the car as I mentioned before. They told him I'd be going in at 9:45, which wasn't exactly true. I went in around 10:30, so he was back in the waiting room sitting there instead of somewhere like Lowes or Home Depot. Not on purpose but because they were running slightly behind.

Snoring Stentman was wheeled into surgery before me and Coughing Cellphone Wife went to the waiting room. Silence for a couple of minutes, and then there were other people brought in who talked and talked about Regis and Kelly and Ellen and the change on TV where Ellen was moving into Oprah's slot and I don't really like her Oh I love her I think she's hysterical and blah blah blah.

Again, just wanted some silence. I buried my face into Wes Welker and enjoyed reading his story.

The surgeon had me sign off on having an audience: a pre-med student, another OB-GYN who wanted to see the surgery because it's relatively new at the hospital, and the manufacturers of the little wee pellets that they were injecting into my uterine artery. He told me they just happened to be in the Boston Area, and wanted to see the surgery. 

Sure, why not.

They wheeled me in, I offered to open doors by kicking the magic buttons so Henry and Michelle didn't have to turn me sideways and access the walls. I said it would be more action hero-ey, and they needed some of that in their lives, I was sure.

The team in the surgery area were really cool. There was all kinds of cool equipment and big screens and I was fascinated with the overhead machinery and the injection machine, which someone named Andre demonstrated for me. They told me everything they were doing, step by step, and we joked and laughed and had a good time. Andre noted that my pulse was 66 and my blood pressure was 117/77, and said "you're not at all nervous, are you?"

I guess not. "You guys are setting me at ease and I know that this procedure will hopefully make my life a lot better.... so have at it, kid." The woman from the medical company smiled at me when I saw her through the window. And then Michelle told me "I'm administering the ..." and then I don't remember anything.

All told, it was over quickly, and I kind of sort of remember getting transferred onto my bed to go up to the recovery room. Doug was with me, and we passed the vending machines that I was thinking of at the "What Sarah Said" ponder time before the surgery. The boy who worked for Transport had on a beautiful Green shirt. I don't know if I said it out loud to him.

I don't remember them transferring me into my bed, but I heard him say goodbye to Michelle, who left to go down to surgery to do it all over again.

It was about noon, and they brought me a liquid lunch. Not martinis and beer, but chicken stock and tea. I was eager to eat because I hadn't had much for dinner then night before at 6pm, and I was dehydrated a bit because I didn't have any water after midnight.

My nursing staff checked my vitals repeatedly through the next few hours, Doug must have left at some point, and I slept a lot. They gave me a machine to self-medicate with, and I made use of it, without going nuts. I slept again. And I slept some more. Doug called around 7 and asked if I was up for visitors, he and Geoff would come down and see me.

I was happy to see them, and jealous that they went to Nick's Roast Beef for dinner. A mandatory pilgrimage whenever we are in that area. Geoff noted that the nurses do a lot of work, and he made wonderful blanket statements about doctors being useless and the nurses being the heroes of the day on a regular basis. Doug didn't correct him too hard, but did tell him that the doctors have their duties and the nurses have theirs, and they are different jobs that are both important.

I later found out that the woman next to me was a nurse herself, and she thought Geoff's observations were fantastic.

Earlier I'd mentioned that I had a catheter, and right about now I was really realizing how awesome that is. Yeah, it was a tad uncomfortable to put in, but once in, I wasn't even aware that it was there. I had asked Henry and Michelle "what's next?" when they put it in, and they said "how do you mean?"

"I mean, how do I pee if I have to pee?"

"Um, you just pee. In fact, you can't help it. You're peeing right now as a mater of fact," said Henry.

"No. Way."

"Yes. Way."

"So I can't even fight it if I wanted to?"


"Not even with kegel exercises?"

Henry cracked up, "Honey, you'd have to have the most spectacular kegel exercises ever to fight the catheter. Don't even try."

So there I am hours later, happy that I don't have to get up and go to the bathroom. Because it would have been impossible. Absolutely. I'm asleep, I'm barely awake, I'm not lucid, and if I had to navigate to the loo it would be a disaster.

Thank you, catheter dude!

All through the night I was monitored, different nurses aids all night. Morning came and nurses changed and breakfast arrived. Again, liquids. I didn't feel like eating but ate the jello. Big mistake.

They had me take a walk up and down the hall, and I got back and they removed the catheter (boo. Now I have to pee on my own, like a sucker!) And I sat in a chair for a while, and they said that once I went to the bathroom I could go home. So I drank a bunch of water, went to the bathroom, called Doug. Got discharged and he picked my prescriptions up before coming to get me.

Home and in bed by 2pm.

All told, I feel pretty good. If I miss out on taking a painkiller it hits me pretty hard. 48 hours later and I'm feeling okay for the most part. Much better than I thought I'd be feeling, that's for sure.

Doug is at the market, Geoff is doing laundry, the dogs are happy to see me. It's going alright.

Prognosis is that next month and the month after I may have heavy periods but I should see a big difference by the third month. I'll be sure to keep you posted if something weird or funky happens.

Thanks for the loving well wishes that you guys have sent... between emails and facebook there have been a lot of kind sentiments and prayers flowing my way. So thank you so much.


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